NLRB Issues Quickie Election Rule

As widely predicted, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued the “quickie election” rule. It takes effect April 14, 2015.

The new rule will result in elections taking place about three weeks after an election petition is filed, instead of the approximately six weeks as has been the case for years. In connection with meeting that schedule, the new rules put a variety of new procedures in place.

The only matters heard at the pre-election hearing will be those that relate to whether an election should be held at all. This hearing will typically be set for eight days after service of the petition.

One day before the hearing – and thus seven days after receiving the petition – the employer must submit a statement of position setting out the legal issues it wishes to raise and preserve. At the same time, the employer must provide a list of the prospective eligible voters, with their names, location and job titles.

Two days after the election agreement is approved, or a decision and direction of election is issued, the employer must provide both the Board’s Regional Director, and the union directly, a list of the eligible voters that includes the employee’s phone number and e-mail address if available. The Board’s theory is that this will allow for more communication earlier in the process. Obviously, it is a way to provide the union with more direct and personal, and earlier, access to employees.

Objections will not delay an election. Previously, if there were substantial questions about matters such as who should or should not be included in the unit, the Board would schedule a hearing and these matters would be decided before the election was held. Now, in effect, issues of that nature will be tabled until after the election, and then heard only if the outcome would impact the election.

These rules will encourage organizing activity. In addition, the rules provide even greater incentive for unions to organize “under the radar” for a time, and let their presence be known only when the election petition is filed.

For employers, it is more important than ever to be in touch with the pulse of the workforce so that signs of organizing activity can be detected quickly. In addition, all supervisors, and especially front line supervisors, should receive training in both how to recognize the signs of possible union activity, and in at least the basic “do’s” and “don’ts” under the complex labor laws that govern these circumstances.